Ryan North et. al. – Adventure Time, vol. 1
This is where I admit to not having watched Adventure Time yet. Although I saw the pitch-short before it even got picked up! Surely that’s worth something! (I’ll watch it eventually, everything I’ve seen of it is awesome.)
ANYWAY. This comic is the shit.
Richard Stark – The Outfit and The Hunter
Darwyn Cooke – Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit and Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score
Feb 9, 27, and ?
Prompted by this excellent review of Donald Westlake’s ouvre (which I think came to me via kate_nepveu), I decided to look into his Richard Stark books. And I thought it was interesting that Darwyn Cooke had gotten to do comic book adaptations of the earlier ones! Like, that’s weird and cool.
Actually, what I first decided to do was take a peek at the Cooke adaptations and maybe grab one as a birthday present for a friend of mine, since the combination of the Grantland review and the few images I found online made them sound incredibly stylish and badass, which are two things my friend appreciates in a birthday gift.
Anyway. Original Recipe Stark went down in a single sitting, smooth as you please. There is no good place to pause, and there’s a really good reason why you see the word “efficient” thrown around a lot when people discuss these books. Like the review implies, these are totally amoral stories with the usual 1960s grab bag of bad ’isms thrown in for party favors, so be ready for some Crime Fiction, but I definitely recommend checking these out.
(Especially if you yourself are a writer, because craftwise there’s a lot to think about it here. Very little to straight-up emulate, but a LOT to think about. People at parties during this period were asking me why I was so fascinated by these books, and I said something to the effect that most people find that you can’t learn how to Write Books, only how to Write This Book, but in the meantime the arc of Westlake’s career presents the illusion [is it an illusion? It must be, right?] that he somehow did the impossible and learned how to Write Books. Good ones, fast, and not just the same one over again.)
Here’s a thing that was interesting about the Darwyn Cooke adaptations: they’re actually much more detailed and rambling than the prose novels. This may be why Westlake is renowned as a prose stylist, is because he can actually beat out comics for concision and velocity.
And partly it’s just because they are, after all, products of very different eras. The comics have an almost Wallace-ian hypertextual quality, with wholesale shifts of style and form scattered about and marching alongside the original’s shifts of perspective. And the visual format makes the shifts of perspective constant, rather than measured — we can always tell how much of an asshole someone thinks Parker is, even if he chooses not to care.
As for the art, it’s legit perfect for the milieu, and there’s not much more to say about that.
Leigh Bracket – “Star Wars Sequel”
I was at the Title Wave one day, and there was this book on the display space of the paperback SF/F shelf: “The Sword of Rhiannon, originally published in 1953 as Sea Kings of Mars, by the author of The Empire Strikes Back.” No, I haven’t read it yet; yes, of course I fucking bought it; yes, my first thought was in fact “one of these things is not like the others.”
So the story is, George Lucas goes to Leigh Brackett; it’s the late ’70s. He’s like, we’re looking for a screenwriter for a Star Wars sequel; have you ever worked in film before? And she’s like, bitch I wrote The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye. And he’s like WHOA you’re THAT Leigh Brackett and she’s like WHY ARE YOU EVEN HERE? and he’s like ‘cause you were writing stuff called Sea Kings of Mars back in the ’50s.
She died shortly after turning in a first draft, and Lawrence Kasdan did the version of the script that got filmed. Wikipedia says:
Brackett’s screenplay has never been officially or legally published. According to Stephen Haffner, it can be read at one of two locations: the Jack Williamson Special Collections library at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales, New Mexico (but may not be copied or checked out); and the archives at Lucasfilm, Ltd. in California.
And I’m like “yeah right.” I poked around a bit, heard it supposedly leaked to the internet in 2010, and was pretty sure I could turn up a copy.
All of which is to say that the provenance of this script was about as sketchy as it gets, and I can’t 100% prove I read what I think I read. I’m pretty convinced, though, mostly because I don’t think any uncompensated forger would bother to do both the work of faking the mess a ’50s pulp writer makes on a typewriter and the work of writing a perfectly serviceable original screenplay that isn’t quite The Empire Strikes Back.
Anyway. This was a fascinating read. It’s definitely a first draft, and it would have needed some love before it’d be ready for Luke and Han et al as played by Hamill and Ford et al. Some of the scenarios are wildly different. But in broad shape, it’s recognizable as the Empire we know and love. The Luke and Yoda (“Minch,” lol) dynamic is there, Luke gets brought down much lower before heading off to get trained, the assault on what we know as Hoth was a much more brutal rout than it was in Empire, all the names are different, Bespin has this whole other 50s pulp dynamic I don’t even want to get into, everything was weird and both familiar and not. Highly recommended if you get into that history of Star Wars business.
Lucasfilm got bought by Disney sometime after I got my hands on this, so obviously I am not posting any links on the public web. But maybe DM me if you want a look at some weird first draft action.